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Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, P59 Carl Cafouros Family Collection

Imagine the horror of Greek immigrant Alexandrine Cafouros upon learning that her husband’s restaurant, the “Devil’s Cafe,” did not mean what she thought. The non-English speaking wife assumed that the name corresponded to de ville in French meaning “of the city.” When she discovered the truth she strongly objected, leading to a unique compromise.

Pantelis L. Cafouros (left) and wife Alexandrine “Aline” (third from left) were among a handful of Greek residents living in Indianapolis at the turn-of-the-century. Cafouros, a waiter at the Claypool Hotel, opened a restaurant by 1909 on West Maryland Street just west of Illinois Street. The restaurant featured home cooking and “the best coffee,” as seen on the awning. To pacify his wife’s concern about his choice of a business name, Pantelis offered up a new name “The Paradise,” thus the restaurant with a split personality was born. The restaurants were located in two bays of a one-story brick structure, adjacent to a Chinese laundry.

Mrs. Cafouros worked in the new restaurant and the businesses thrived until the early 1920s when Pantelis died at about age 44. Aline lived an additional fifty years and supported her four children by running a confectionery and later sewing and washing clothes. It is interesting that the devil, and presumably an angel, depicted in the ovals on the sign had been painted out on this circa 1915 photograph.

Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, P59 Carl Cafouros Family Collection

According to family members, Cafouros immigrated to St. Louis during the Panic of 1893 and later settled in Indianapolis where his wife joined him in 1910. Pantelis, who spoke seven languages, started a school in Indianapolis to teach English to immigrants. He frequently served as an interpreter in court cases and business deals. Following Greek tradition, Pantelis celebrated the birth of son Telemachos “James” Cafouros in 1911, with fireworks launched from the roof of the Devil’s Cafe, drawing a large crowd and some controversy for favoring a son. Two years later the birth of son George was celebrated with fireworks at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. No mention is made of fireworks for the birth of daughters Athena and Helen.

Google Street View, July 2009

From aerial photographs it appears that the Devil’s Cafe building was demolished in about 1960 and was a parking lot until contractors completed the Hyatt Regency in 1977. The old restaurant site is now a service entrance to the Hyatt. The mixed-used building was completed in 1977 and designed by architectural firm Browning Day Pollak Associates. Today the building is called the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis/PNC Center (replacing National City Bank as seen in this 2009 photograph). The circular upper floor houses the Eagle’s Nest, a rotating restaurant.

 

 

8 responses to “Indianapolis Then and Now: The Paradise and Devil’s Cafe, 108-110 W. Maryland Street”

  1. bsdil berchekas jr says:

    I grew up with Carl Cafouros; he resided on Pleasant Run Parkway just off the Madison Avenue Expressway near Manual High School; he and his wife live out near Greenwood now , I believe. Carl has an MA in History from the university of Illinois (and a law degree from IU, I believe; I know he’s an attorney in Indianapolis. His knowledge of history is very pervasive, that much I do know. An outstanding couple!)

  2. Greg Cafouros says:

    Pantelis and Aline were my grandparents. Their son George Cafouros founded the Southside Spotlight newspaper, which served the Southside community for over 60 years. My brother Carl Cafouros has written a history of the Greek community in Indy which was later incorporated into a history of that community by the local PBS television station, WFYI. All three of Pantelis and Aline’s grandchildren are now practicing attorneys in Indianapolis. A true testimony to the immigrant experience in Indianapolis.

  3. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    What a wonderful legacy! Thanks for sharing!

  4. basil berchekas jr says:

    Carl and Becky Cafouros are friends of mine, and Carl and I “grew up” together at Holy Trinity. Went to the calling for his Father on the South Side about 10 years ago. Last saw Carl at the Greek Fest at the new church in 2011 (this is just personal, but I thought the Festival was “more fun” at 40th and Penn, but that’s just my opinon.

  5. Joan Hostetler says:

    Thanks for speaking up, Greg. It sounds like your grandfather Pantelis was quite interesting. Thanks for sharing your family photos with the Indiana Historical Society.

  6. Theodore J Schott says:

    Athena named me. ‘Theodore’. She was Salutatorian to my Mother Irene’s Valedictorian at Sacred Heart HS. The very-first co-ed class at the former all male bastion. They were lifelong best of friends.

  7. Jason cafouras says:

    WE ARE CAFOURAS MIGHTY MIGHTY CAFOURAS. BUCK.100 LEFT 100 RIGHT DEAD CENTER.

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